October 5, 2012 ·11 Comments
In 1992, UNSC authorised the protection of humanitarian aid in Somali as many hundreds of civilians were dying because of famine and instability. Only 500 Pakistanis peacekeeper was confined in Mogadishu airport for five months and could not do anything on the ground. Gen Mohamed Farah Aided and his militia group was blocking and looting the aid. US congress authorised military protection as it was the only country could so. The first phase of the mission was successful and handed its protection mission which was under UNITAF to UNISOM. Then the Blackhawk down emerged and the mission was utterly failed as its objective was changed from humanitarian to the arrest of Gen Aided. The mission was ended as one of the worst UN failures and embarrassment in one of the US military history.
Today in Somalia, there are foreign forces some are authorised by the UNSC (Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti) some are not (Ethiopia, US, France and Britain) and other half-of their mission is authorised and the other half are not (Kenya). The AMISOM mission was to protect the Somali government institutions. The protection of Somali institutions alone was not sustainable and Al-Shabaab was getting tougher on them as it was seizing large territory. The mission is completely changed to the fighting the Al-Shabaab. Until October 2011, things were not going quite well for the AMISOM and Arab Spring has started in Tunis and was spreading many Arab capitals. The fears of western capital have increased as the fear from Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda to spread in the Arab capital under the revolution was becoming real. The only way to deal with the Al-Shabaab was a militarily, quickly Ethiopia, Kenya and direct drones from US and Special Forces from US, France and Britain were sent to Somalia.
Since the Kenyan forces invaded Somalia illegally in November 2011 under the pretext of border protection, the perception of the so-called peacekeeper in Mogadishu has changed dramatically. Interestingly, there was no peace to keep in both missions, the UNISOM and the AMISOM. In February 2012Similarly, Ethiopia launched its regular militarily intervention deeper than it was feared, this time reaching into Somalia territory, Baidoa. The timing for the Ethiopians was to show the world who is the military mighty in the East Africa. Its late prime minister Males Zenawi was cheering his short notice capture of Baidoa at the London Conference. The world was seeing the continuation of the status quo in Somalia and did neither cheer the Ethiopian claim nor the Kenyans. Ethiopia and Kenya see eye an eye in Somalia affairs, it’s one of their primary foreign policies. Ethiopia mission was known and had failed before and had no intention to claim a land from Somalia.
The foray between Kenya and Ethiopia now is joined by the third forces, Uganda aided by Burundi and Djibouti under AMISOM banner. Uganda and Kenya both fighting for supremacy in the East Africa commerce and cross border incursion and tribal wars between their tribal areas in their borders have been frequent in the last three decades. Both countries were expanding their military capabilities and have spent 5.3% and 4% of their GDP or $850 million and $1.03 billion respectively in 2011.
Kenya is not stable as Uganda, another election is looming and the current incumbent is not going to contest and four of their senior minister facing ICC Hague. The unity government was mastered by Kofi Anan. Uganda was reluctant to accept any unity government as it was the staunch supporter of Raila Odinga. Some Kenyans critics accused Uganda of arming some elements of Odinga supporters.
Their border disputes, animosity and suspension were further fuelled by when Kenyan sent its forces to Somalia in November 2011. Such move condemned by the Somali people and still considered one of the blatant aggressions of Kenyan government against Somalia sovereignty.
Uganda saw this as sensitive issue for the Somalis and feared that the frontline states involvement in Somalia could create a new tension between AMISOM 1 stationed in Mogadishu and the Somalis. Ugandans and Burundians have lost over 500 soldiers and suffered huge losses morally and militarily, until later was propped up by the US and French military as well the increase of the Somali army.
Kenya’s move was condemned globally publicly and through diplomatic channels. Somalia’s former TFG president Sheikh Sharif has publicly spoken out the Kenyan move. Kenya did not stop there, barely after 15 days in the illegal adventurism, it couldn’t cope the financial burden of its ill-advised policy of invading Somalia. It launched diplomatic shuttle, knocked every door and sent delegation to Mogadishu, Addis Ababa, and many capital cities including Tel Aviv, Israel, but turned fruitless mission. It bribed some members of the outgoing TFG cabinet minister, some were offered share in Kenyan owned oil company, called Bahari Ltd.
The second and last option was quickly and artistically crafted. This time is to join the AMISOM, let the bills pick by the international community, while Kenya carries its own land grabbing agenda. They pushed their mission through AU, thanks to its influential Kenyans serving already under AMISOM, Wafula Wamunyi and IGAD general secretary Mahboob Moallin.
After few months Kenyans has already changed the AU and UN perceptions. The Kenyan promised them that its mission will primarily aligns with the AMISOM mission and its forces will take orders from Mogadishu not from Nairobi. UN accepted the inclusion of Kenyan illegal forces under the AMISOM helmet, which means that UN will foot the Kenyan’s war bill. Kenya’s took step further after the UNSC gave the tick of approval, now starting its strategic implementation of its goals, demanding immediate change of AMISOM command structure, and pushing the envelope further and further striping the command powers from Mogadishu, notably from the Ugandans and Burundians. This resulted in the birth of AMISOM 2. Kenya no longer take order from Mogadishu, its military spokesman is the real spokesperson for its mission not Col Adan Hamud of Djibouti, who is the official spokesperson of AMISOM in Mogadishu. Col Hamud complained publicly about Kenya role and its military activity and its use of clan forces. Nevertheless, AMISOM 1 has no control over whatsoever on AMISOM 2 does.
To make thing much sour for the AMISOM 1, Uganda lost three of its helicopters in Kenya, a move that created bitter suspicion between the two. Musaveni ordered military inquiry about the incident as he rejected Kenyan assertion of blaming bad weather.
The UNSC did not authorise the AMISOM to use airplanes and ships to target the Al-Shabaab. Kenya deployed its navy and air forces and uses them day in and day out. Since its invasion, its navy and air force has killed over 300 civilians and wounded many more including children and women. The UN knows this but is silent to condemn.
Barely few days after top UN officials met Kenyan security bras in which they were assured by the Kenyans that they will safeguard the Somali civilians in and around Kismayo, the Kenyan military deliberately executed nine unarmed civilian men in Janay Abdala, a village 60 km from Kismayo. The anger from the Somalis including the Somali military forces reached its limit. Some of the Somali top military officials threaten for avenging the deliberate killing of the civilians.
On 25 September, Kenyan air forces bombarded heavily the port of Kismayo, which is a civil institution rather a military installation. After the news of bombardment of Kismayo port came into light, the Kenyan Capital FM titled the news “KDF finally hit Kismayo Port”, a headline that carries the aggressiveness of Kenyan government and its civil institution against Somalia.
The UNSC is accountable the actions of the AMISOM 2, because the council has legalised the Kenyan illegal invasion, gave the immunity from prosecution and gave the weapons to kill the women and children in Lower & Middle Jubba and Gedo. The UNSC has failed its responsibility as it continues to watch the continuation of killing of innocence civilians and obliteration of what is left in Somalia’s public infrastructure.
Why Kismayo is Kenyan target?
The clan dynamics in Somalia is as complex as it has been, the use or allegiances with foreign powers against another clan is not uncommon, but has never resulted in any decisive victory for any clan. Somali history of using foreign forces dates back in late 1800’s when Italians was landing the central Somalia, where one clan used against another fellow clan. However, the Italians never delivered the victory that the aggressor clan was wished for. Ethiopians also knows better, they armed and propped up many clans and regional governments.
Kenya has been sporadically arming one of the minority clans in the southern Somalia since 90’s. It was well documented the Kenyan involvement of arming clans that it thinks will serve its interest. Of course, elements of its government officials hailing from northern frontier districts were the culprits to some of Kenya’s direct and indirect arming militias.
For a while now the Kenyan government was pushing the creation of buffer zone called “Jubbaland”. Such initiative has been on the table since late 2009. Ethiopia and US were adamant such creation, in particular the Ethiopians was in fear of that it could increase the hostile in its Ogadenia.
Prior 1984 there were only two Jubba, one being Alto (In Italian mean Upper) Jubba and the other Bassa (Lower) Jubba. The Siad Bare regime divided into multiple region, the Upper Jubba became Bay, Bakool and Gedo and Lower Jubba, Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba. Thus created an additional four regions; Bay, Bakool, Gedo and Middle Juba. The purpose was to create a foothold for his umbrella clan in the fertile region.
Today the demographics are still same, though some villages have lost its indigenous inhabitants due to forceful extermination, drought and famine. However, majority of these regions the indigenous people like Bajuni, Digil and Mirifle, Bantu (Wagosha), Sheeqaal, Dir, Galje’el still living in their lands despite being tried to eradicate by the successive militant gangs belong to the minority clan that Kenya is now supporting.
These clans were not part of the Jubbaland’s initiative and simply see those behind it as outsiders. This makes the Jubbaland initiative as futile and an invitation for another civil war.
As Kismayo fall to the hands of three groups, first being the Kenyan forces assisted by the US, France and Israel, the second the clan militia known Ras-Kamboni (former members of Al-S) and the third forces, Marehan militia disguising under Somali government army. According to Somali sources, the majority of Ras-Kamboni militias is made up by ONLF, the opposition forces fighting against Ethiopia. Before Kismayo fall to Al-Shabaab, these militias were getting training a camp near Baidoa, but later were kicked out by Al-Shabaab after it became evident their motive was to push the Al-Shabaab war beyond Somalia, in particular the Ethiopian border to free the Ogadenia from Ethiopia.
The original Ras-Kamboni was led by Sheikh Hassan Turki which was dissolved into Al-Shabaab in late 2010. Most importantly, the old Ras-Kamboni militia hail from Afmadow and Dhobley near the Kenyan and Somalia border and they are part of the peaceful clans in Jubbaland.
The profile of the Ras-Kamboni and the leaders behind Jubbaland initiative can prove otherwise. The failed Jubbaland initiative has elected Prof Mohamed Abdi Gandhi as a leader in 2011; he was born and bred in Qabridahar, Somalia region in Ethiopia. Similarly, Ahmed Madobe, the leader of Ras-Kamboni, born and bred in Qabri-Dahar, Ethiopia.
Kismayo is a cosmopolitan, multi-clan city, not a sole clan city, whether one militia has once controlled does not mean that clan militia is the right owners of the city. Historically, Kismayo is a Bajuni town, the other clans joined later years, in particular the Marehan or Sade just moved in the last 21 years of the civil war when many indigenous was systematically uprooted from the river banks of Jubba. Ogadeni first wave arrived in late 1800’s but were view and contained at Afamadow and Dhoobley until the civil war. Today much of the villages in Kismayo and surrounds have Kiswahili or Bajuni and Af-Maay names. Kismayo environs has various clans, namely, Bajunis who live in the islands and in the city as fishing communities, Digil and Mirifle, Galja’el, Shegal (Hawiye), Dir and many smaller clans.
These clans have fought against each other for the land and water access, but not for control for the whole territory. Hubeer of Digil & Mirifle and Shegal of Hawiye fought in bitter war in 2008 for dispute of a land where one wanted to log trees for charcoal. But none ever won to dislodge the other, because each clan has many resources to use for the conflict including calling their kinsmen in neighbouring region and countries. Similarly, some of these clans also live together in Kenya and Ethiopia. For instance, Sheegal live with Ogaden in Ethiopia and some the dispute in Ethiopia drags into Somalia and vice versa.
The dynamics of clans has significantly changed in the last three years of Al-Shabaab control. AL-Shabaab controlled in iron fist, the mayor of the city was hailing from Digil&Mirilfe in order to diffuse the conflict between the major militia that has being fighting for the control the city. The Al-Shabaab formula worked well, it also empowered other clans that previously were denied the rightful to own and carry guns, political space and so on. These clans are very much armed that they were in 90’s when their villages were set on fire by militia belonging to the two militias that Kenya is supporting now. It’s not surprise that 80% of Al-Shabaab foot soldiers made up from the clans that were prosecuted under Siad Bare regime and the successive militia gangs.
The risk ignoring the other clans can hand support to Al-Shabaab again in similar fashion we saw when the seized Kismayo in 2009.
Kenya’s self-interest does not lies which clan, but oil as it has granted offshore exploration permits to many oil companies. The offshore area is included part of Somalia which lies few nautical miles from Kismayo. However, the other conflicting interest is that the Kenya officials hailing from NFD, playing double cards, one being supportive to Kenyan’s oil interest in order to push the pan-Ogadeni statehood from Jubbaland to Ogadenia.
It is crucial to analyse what Kenyans do after Kismayo, simply suck in the squabbling clans or move on to fight Al-Shabaab? Does it have that capacity? If so, can it sustain it? If it took a year to reach Kismayo with the help of US drones, its not doubt it will take another year or so to reach Jilib or Sakow. Why? The reason is that these cities is not contested cities by other clans previously, still is in the hands of the indigenous clans who has the backing of Al-Shabaab and they are different from Kismayo. If Kenya uses the clan militias that current it used to capture Kismayo, the clans in Sakow and Jilib of Middle Jubba will not sit idle. They will defend their towns because of the clan issue not Kenyan oil interest. They don’t give damn about Kenya’s oil interest. What Al-Shabaab do, they will simply take the advantage of that complexities and may use these cities as launching pad for its operation against Kismayo. Similarly, Bardere, Gedo, is another city with two large clans, the Marehan and Digil and Mirifle, it’s a city that Al-Shabaab is defending very hard, it contained the coalition forces on many fronts, Kenya and Somali army as well Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’ on northern side, and Ethiopia and Somali forces from Eastern and Western side.
Kenya’s vie of that the other clans in the region are Al-Shabaab sympathisers is dangerous and will result reverse of its recent gains. From the way it conducts its mission is leading towards that way. Recently its military spokesperson said that Marehan is directly aiding Al-Shabaab. If that is what Kenya mission is entailed to, then whole AMISOM mission will fail as UNISOM in 1994 when the mission turned away from its primary objectives. If Kenya continues the way its current mission and involvement of Jubbaland initiatives, it would result the southern clans to take arms against Kenya which will further result the Ugandan and other troops to withdraw Somalia altogether.
The way forward
As Somali has now new government, it should be the one who sets the conditions for the country not the foreigners. AMISOM is a foreign force and should abide the law of land.The Somali government must also revisit the resolutions that authorised the AMISOM mission, question the conducts that is beyond their mission such as the use of naval and warplanes and change as necessary as more and more Somali youth joining the army to restore their dignity. The recent visit of Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to Baidoa where he oversaw the training of over 3000 new Somali army, can contribute the strength of the Somali national army if they are quickly equipped and looked after their wellbeing. These forces can also take part in the offences against Al-Shabaab in Bardere, Jilib, Bu’ale, Sakow etc this can calm the moods of the clans in these towns as they see these forces one of their own, rather an invading clan with foreign protection.
A civilian administration for Kismayo and other cities should be set-up immediately. The administrators can be drawn from the clans that share the city and should not be only appointed those who can afford to Mogadishu. If the government appoints persons that are neutral for these cities, the administration will simply fail. For my perspective, I call the president to appoint fast a person from the non-armed militia clans, like Bajun or Wagosha as the Kismayo mayor. It should also need to refrain from appointing regional governors, as the regions were created illegally by the Siad Bare government.
Kenya and its backers need to realise that the Jubbaland initiative can work in Nairobi hotels, but not in Kismayo and south western Somalia. The people of southern Somalia have had enough chaos, drones, terrorism and drought and have high hopes with this new government. It is time to stop the top-down approach and meddling Somalia affairs alone.
Kenya also need to stop pushing the return of the Somali refugees, world knows that there are many refugees hosted in Dhadhaab camps, they are not simply from Somalia alone, but some hail from Somali-Ethiopia. Mixing these refugees will simply create further complexities and south western Somali people do not want another influx of refugees as they have seen in 1977 and 1984. This will only make the matters worse.